Tag: COVID-19

Explained: How Intellectual Property Rights stop vaccine production (video)

Final vaccine

What is standing in the way of expanding production and carrying out mass vaccination campaigns across the world?

Source- peoplesdispatch.org, April 4, 2021.

VIRUS PROBE: Laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, says WHO Director-General


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 31 March 2021: As the Covid-19 virus still continues to surge in many countries, the WHO Director-General Dr.Tedros Adhanom in recent remarks says, Laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, and the international probing team studying the origins of SARS-CoV-2 confirmed: “that there was widespread contamination with SARS-CoV-2 in the Huanan market in Wuhan, but could not determine the source of this contamination.”

Meanwhile, a report in nature.com says, “Markets that sold animals — some dead, some alive — in December 2019 have emerged as a probable source of the coronavirus pandemic in a major investigation organized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

That investigation winnowed out alternative hypotheses on when and where the pandemic arose, concluding that the virus probably didn’t spread widely before December or escape from a laboratory. The investigation report, released today, also takes a deep look at the likely role of markets — including the Huanan market in Wuhan, to which many of the first known COVID-19 infections are linked.”

China’s Global Times says, “The report, generated after WHO experts visited Wuhan, the Chinese city first reporting a COVID-19 case, dismissed the “lab-leak” conspiracy theory, and recommended transmissions between animals and humans, and transmissions through frozen food, which is consistent with what WHO experts said in a February conference in Wuhan. It also suggested the 7th Military World Games, which was held in Wuhan in October 2019, two months before the first case in this city was reported, is worth digging into.”

Covid small
Source of graphic- Global Times, 31 March 2021.

The report of the international team on their Wuhan field visit, from 14 January -10 February 2021, was published on 30 March 2021 as the WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further studies.


Only a few weeks into the outbreak, the IHR Emergency Committee of independent experts recommended that WHO and China pursue efforts to identify the animal source of the virus.

WHO media release (Geneva, 30 March 2021)

Throughout 2020, WHO continued to discuss with China and the other Member States the need to study and share information around the virus’s origins.

The World Health Assembly resolution of May 2020, which was adopted by all Member States, cited a need “to identify the zoonotic source”:

WHA73.1 from 19 May 2020: 9. (6) to continue to work closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and countries, as part of the One-Health Approach to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts, including through efforts such as scientific and collaborative field missions, which will enable targeted interventions and a research agenda to reduce the risk of similar events occurring, as well as to provide guidance on how to prevent infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV2) in animals and humans and prevent the establishment of new zoonotic reservoirs, as well as to reduce further risks of emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases;
In July 2020 WHO sent a small team to China to plan a joint study comprising Chinese and independent international scientists.

It was agreed that WHO would select the international scientists. The Terms of Reference for the Virus Origins Study were completed by fall 2020.

Terms of reference of the Global Study of the Origins of SARS-COV2

The team of scientists came from around the world: Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Viet Nam.

The joint international team comprised 17 Chinese and 17 international experts from 10 other countries as well as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); and WHO.

Find the list of the members of the international team here.

From the outset, this study was designed as one step on the path of understanding the origins of COVID-19 reflecting the specific scope and mandate as outlined by Member States in the World Health Assembly resolution and negotiated Terms of Reference.

Gaura Travel Flight after flight: 50 unstoppable charter flights to India

Photo- Supplied

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 March 2021: Home is the best and that is where Gaura Travel makes you reach. On 19 March the mission of repatriating people back to India became stronger, Gaura Travel crossed another benchmark of operating 50 unstoppable charter flights. In collaboration with Singapore Airlines, the 50th charter flight took off on 19 March 2021 from Melbourne Airport carrying 200 people to New Delhi.

At the onset of the pandemic, Australia shut its borders to the world to fight the deadly COVID-19 virus. No one saw 2020 coming. Panic clenched people as they suddenly found themselves stranded in Australia. Gaura Travels arranged the first flight to India on 22 July 2020 from Sydney. The Gaura Travel team provided incessant support to all those on that flight leading to a seamless journey.

Photos- Supplied

On 5th February 2021 after 8 months of sheer hard work and courage, Gaura Travel accomplished the milestone of reuniting 10,000 families. Statistically, 18,000 passengers flew out of Melbourne: 15,000 by chartered flights and 3,000 under Vande Bharat Mission with Air India flying 17 sorties. From the 15,000, Gaura Travel accounted for 10,000.

There was joy in the air, but the directors of Gaura Travel, Ashwini Sonthalia, and Abhishek Sonthalia, knew that more had to be done. They resonated with the longing of those stuck in India, and now are back with a bang! On 27 February 2021, Gaura Travel announced the great news of special charter flights from India to Australia!

The skies have not yet opened and Gaura Travel is continuing to unite loved ones across the seas. New flights to India are in the offing with all the love from Gaura Travel.

Video- Supplied

PODCAST: India’s soft power push with vaccine diplomacy

Dr. Azad Bali & Dr. Pradeep Taneja


India is the world’s largest donor of COVID-19 vaccines despite having the world’s second-highest caseload of coronavirus. What are India’s motivations for this bold move? Will India have enough vaccines for its 1.3+ billion people, and what does India’s apparent generosity say about the vaccine nationalism of the west?

Political scientist Dr. Pradeep Taneja and health policy researcher Dr. Azad Bali join presenter Ali Moore to examine India’s vaccine diplomacy.

An Asia Institute podcast. Produced and edited by profactual.com. Music by audionautix.com. Transcript here.

The views in the podcast are that of the authors and not of southasiatimes.com.au.

Source- melbourneasiareview.edu.au (Under Creative Commons Licence)

New Australian website – Is it true? to counter COVID-19 vaccines misinformation


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 14 March 2021: ‘Misinformation’ has been the biggest headache for governments globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. All sorts of conspiracy theories about the Carona virus and the vaccines to curb it face flak on social media and other forums. And, Australia is no exception. The gigantic issue is being confronted by the WHO and other international agencies. The Australian government is also ramping up its campaign against misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccines, as the vaccination program ramps up moving into Phase 1B.

A new website, called Is it true? – www.health.gov/covid-19-caccines - will help answer questions people may have about the vaccine, and respond to vaccine misinformation they may have heard.This new function will provide trusted, credible information on COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia. It will sort the fact from the fiction.

The information on the website will be clear, accurate, and timely. This will help reassure Australians about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and answer commonly asked questions and misinformation relating to the COVID-19 Vaccination program.

“It’s essential that people get their information on the vaccines from credible sources – and that should be on official government websites.
With new vaccine developments every day, it’s very normal for people to have questions and possibly feel hesitant about getting the vaccine. That doesn’t make them anti-vaccination.

The new section on the website will address the most common questions being asked by people and will be updated regularly. The Government is running an extensive $31 million education campaign through the rollout, providing people with information about the approval process for the vaccines, details on what phases the rollout is at, and who is now eligible to be vaccinated.

As the vaccination program starts to move into Phase 1b, which covers more than six million people, it’s essential people understand the facts about the vaccines as they make their appointments to get vaccinated. The more people are vaccinated, the more people are protected from severe illness and death, keeping themselves and the broader community safe,” says a media release from the Press Office of PM Scott Morrison.

Apart from fighting COVID-19 misinformation, PM Scott Morrison, today announced to invest more than $1.1 billion to extend our successful national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until 31 December 2021. This $1.1 billion is in addition to more than $22 billion spent in these areas to date, including more than $6 billion to support the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.